An afternoon appointment is going to force me to get the Sift out promptly today; the first two articles will go out as fast as I can proof-read them.
And then tomorrow I head to Louisville for the Unitarian Universalist General Assembly, which will keep me too busy to put out a Sift next Monday.
Today’s first article will have the unlikely title “Apocalyptic Optimism”. Two recent books have something interesting in common: Gar Alperovitz’s What Then Must We Do? and David Graeber’s The Democracy Project are upbeat books based on the premise that America-as-we-know-it is falling apart. I’m classifying them as “apocalyptic” using the royalist/prophetic/apocalyptic framework that journalist Robert Jensen borrowed from theologian Walter Brueggermann. What makes them upbeat? Well, as Graeber says in his last paragraph, “The human imagination stubbornly refuses to die.”
The second article “Herd Immunity Against Online Spying” is more of a how-to. The recent revelations about the NSA have re-awakened my interest in ways to be more anonymous online. I’ll ignore things that require you to become a hacker or convince your friends to use encryption, and focus instead on changes you can make simply on your own: the Tor browser, Tormail, and a neat little program the Air Force uses called Lightweight Portable Security. Maybe you have nothing to hide, but the more people who use these kinds of tools, the harder the NSA’s job gets.
Third, I’ll summarize a bunch of what we learned about the NSA this week and warn you not to get distracted by the hero-or-traitor debate in “Edward Snowden Is Not the Issue”.
The weekly summary is called “Dissidents” after a Thomas Dolby song. Syria, Turkey, DNA patents, the unlikely Brewer-Obama alliance, and why taping your mouth shut is more speech than Wisconsin can tolerate.